Our students represent a diverse range of adults aged 19 to past retirement age. They are non-traditional, mature and rely on a full complement of life experiences that enable them to succeed in their pursuit of educational opportunities and vocational training. Here are four examples of the wonderful individuals who utilize EOC services:
After years of questioning "What do I want to do with my life besides raise my children?" I decided to finally take the plunge at 27 years old and attend college. I grew up in the Turtle Lake WI area attending public school and then deciding to home school my high school years, receiving my high school diploma not until the age of 23. After falling in love and having two beautiful children, I ended up being the single mother, working a dead end job, taking care of her family. I knew there was more for me and my children and I decided to meet with Student Counselor Jim Dzimiela at UWBC. It was so easy to get started and now I am pursuing a career in Social Work-something I would love. The juggle of a part-time job, children, and school can be a little difficult at times but following dreams makes for a very happy family!
He has been a participant in the EOC since 2002. He knew he had to go to college to earn a better income and came to the EOC to assist him in his plans. He received his associate degree from CVTC in 2005 in the Supervisory management area of Business. After CVTC he enrolled at UWEC and is now working on his bachelor's degree in Health Care Administration. Mike has worked in various capacities as he has gone to school and in spite of the economic downturn and the limited availability of jobs, he claims he does whatever he has to so he can continue to get his bachelor's degree.
Self-employed for almost 15 years I found the struggles of being a small business owner in an industry that was ever changing. Facing a financial disaster that had been snowballing for years I was federally indicted. Fast forward through the year of the unknown and I was then sentenced to 33 months in a Federal Prison. I earned 4 months off for good behavior, the norm in the Federal Prison System, serving about 87% of a sentence. I spent 23 months at the Federal Prison Camp in Pekin, Illinois. I was granted 6 months in a halfway house in Eau Claire, Wisconsin to finish out the remainder of my 33 month sentence.
While at Camp Pekin, I was fortunate enough to be able to enroll in the Horticulture Program offered to inmates. It was here that I realized that I was not too old nor was it too late for me to go back to school. I contemplated what I wanted to do. I was really quite unsure when I left prison. I thought the travel industry again (probably because it was familiar) and I thought about the Nutrition field after losing 150 pounds during my 23 months of incarceration.
Before I left prison I had written the Work Force Development Center in Eau Claire. Mr. Ed Steinacker was kind enough to write me back (which is a rarity to get a return letter while on the inside) and set up an appointment with him. The appointment was scheduled for two days after my release. I was thrilled about this as I was ready to begin my new life. Ed was of great help to me with completing my resume, giving me advice and seeing that I was headed in the right direction. There is so much to process when you are trying to integrate back into society.
It was Ed Steinacker of the Workforce Development Center that suggested I make an appointment with Sallie at the EOC. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received and acted on.
I met with Sallie and Stephanie……And, I will say I have never been more pleased with the help that I was given at the EOC. I told them of my incarceration and explained that I wasn't sure what I wanted to or could commit to four years of college. After my conversation with them, and before I left their office that day I decided to go ahead with pursuing a four year degree to become a Registered Dietician. Sallie and Stephanie were not only helpful to me conquering college for the first time in my life, they were so supportive. I will never forget that day. As I left their building I was overjoyed with the new opportunities that lie ahead of me and with my decision to return to school as a full time student.
I found myself serving time in the Barron Jail in 2010. I decided to make a change in my life. I met EOC Career Counselor, Jim Dzimiela there while I was working on my GED. He motivated me to reach for the stars. I accomplished my high school equivalency in a matter of a few months.. Then I applied to WITC with his help. I filed my FAFSA and I discovered that I had not registered for the selective service. This stopped me in my tracks, but Jim again went to bat for me in advocating with the college, different agencies, and with my determination I got my financial aid through WITC. As I have come to learn "When one door closes another door opens. It is never too late to start to change your life!"
In 2008 I decided to return to school to finish a degree in Social Work that I had started in 1996. I had questions about everything from financial aid to determining my personal working style, and career options. The Educational Opportunity Center helped me get information, get organized, and made the transition back to being a student truly manageable.
After being in hospitals for several years recovering from a rare illness, I re-entered college with the assistance of the Educational Opportunity Center. Sallie Kernan, an EOC program counselor, helped me to apply for admission and financial aid, and she also assisted me with initially deciding on a career plan. I have changed my plan several times over the lasts couple of years, and the Educational Opportunity Center has always been there to help me no matter what my educational needs are.I have finally decided on the Business Management associate degree at Chippewa Valley Technical College and I am now completing my third semester. I am taking a combination of online and on campus classes that fits my lifestyle well. I feel that this degree will provide me with many exciting career opportunities in the future.I am even considering going on to purse a bachelors degree after completing my associate degree.
I became deaf at the age of 21, and I was no longer able to pursue my nursing careerwhile living in my home country of Africa. I moved to the United States in 1984, and really struggled to find suitable employment while raising my family on my own. I was very frustrated because I was rejected from so many jobs because of my hearing loss. I felt that employers would see my disability and not my skills, and I was turned down job after job.
I am so glad that I came to the Educational Opportunity Center and met with Sallie Kernan because she really believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dream of completing a college degree in a new profession. The EOC helped me to choose a program and assisted with the admission and financial aid process. The EOC has given me support along the way, especially when I was thinking of withdrawing from college. They helped me to weigh the pros and cons and gave me the encouragement that I needed to keep going.
I am now only one semester away from receiving my degree in Office Assistant. I have recently obtained part time employment as an office assistant, and will continue to do this job part time while I finish my degree. This position will turn into full time employment upon finishing my program.
I feel very happy and successful!
I graduated high school in Kenya, Africa. I came to the United States in 2003 and was living in Barron, WI. I completed my HSED at WITC in Rice Lake, WI. I supported my younger siblings working at the Jennie O' Turkey Store in Barron, WI. I met Jim Dzimiela, my advisor/counselor in 2005 at University of Wisconsin-Barron County in Rice Lake when I decided to go to college.
I started out as a part-time student at UWBC in the Spring of 2005-2006. He assisted me in every step of the process from financial aid to advising me on class selection. The Education Opportunity Center made my transition to college painless. I am in my final semester at UWBC and will be graduating with an Associate of Arts & Science Degree in May of 2008. I have applied to University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and River Falls to complete my bachelor's in business.
Jeffrey Ames is a 38-year old handyman from Bruce, WI, looking for a better life. Jeff had been diagnosed with a learning disability; and lacking the support from his teachers in high school, eventually dropped out. Despite Jeff's frustration with his lack of education, his perseverance to improve himself brought him to the Educational Opportunity Center at the local university and technical college in Rice Lake, WI. Jim Dzimiela, EOC Career Counselor, guided him through the process of taking and passing the Ability To Benefit * test. Jeff successfully passed the entrance requirements. Now, with the support of Wisconsin
Indianhead Technical College, and the EOC, Jeff is now a student at WITC pursuing his dream in the marine mechanic program. Jeff advises other adults that, wherever they are in life, "to follow their dream and believe. You too can do it!"